The Medieval and Renaissance city of Besse

Let’s start with Besse : from the market street where we are located, discover all the charms of our town built on an ancient lava flow. Nestling at an altitude of 1000m, our medieval and Renaissance town has been awarded the “Petites Cités de Caractère” (Small Cities of Character) label. Immerse yourself in the heart of history by strolling through its narrow cobbled streets, admiring its beautiful 12th and 16th century residences and visiting its belfry or ramparts : no less than eight buildings are listed as Historic Monuments.

In the heart of nature

The lakes, rivers and waterfalls are an essential part of nature, here in Sancy. Let yourself be enchanted by the mysterious Lake Pavin, the deepest lake in Auvergne (92 m). Stroll around the peat bog lakes of En-Bas and Bourdouze, admire the waterfalls of Chiloza or Vaucoux during a picnic. Taste the iron-rich waters of the Goyon fountain on the way to Super Besse, or from the Saint-Anne spring on the Chaudefour valley path, itself home to the Cascades du Moine et de la Biche. Auvergne well deserves its nickname of water tower of France !

An impressive heritage to discover

Speaking of castles, that of Murol bears witness to a prosperous seigniorial life and astonishes by its defence system which made it impregnable. If you have never seen a castle dug out of the rock on several levels, the troglodyte fortress of Jonas will surprise you. In our village, the old castle of the Bailli also offers a beautiful testimony of the 15th century.

Religious monuments are not to be outdone. Starting from the church of St André in Besse, built in Romanesque times, one can follow the path of the summer procession leading the Black Madonna to the chapel of Notre Dame de Vassivière (16th century). You can admire a 10th and 11th century funeral chapel in the cemetery of the commune of Chambon-sur-Lac, which also houses a Romanesque church. But the undisputed jewel of Romanesque art in Auvergne remains the church of St Nectaire, perched high up in the village. And our territory conceals many other small treasures of Romanesque architecture that you will be able to discover on your walks.

From visits to discoveries

In terms of curiosities, a visit to the  petrifying fountains of St Nectaire will puzzle you. You will learn how the limestone deposit can shape real works of art over time. A few hundred metres away, the caves of Cornadore contain pools where Roman legionnaires came to heal their wounds by taking advantage of the virtues of these same waters. In Cotteuges there is another curiosity : the cheminée des fées that stands out in the middle of the forest, alone and well hidden.

Finally, the ski museum in Besse tells you more about the history of this sport and you can admire a beautiful collection tracing the evolution of winter sports equipment. Icing on the cake, the museum is located in the house known as Queen Margot’s house.

Farms and educational parks generally delight young and old alike : you can visit the St Nectaire educational park to rub shoulders with (and stroke) myocastors, kangaroos, llamas, etc. You can even be a “day carer” there, just like at the Auvergne Animal Park. But you can also choose to learn about the making of the famous St Nectaire cheese at the farm « La Clef des Champs » or simply visit one of the many farming groups that produce it.